John Anthony Fingleton – Moorlands

Moorlands

A soft wind blew across the moor,
And the heather danced in tune,
Some grouse flew up to test the air,

Then snuck back, into its sweet perfume.
A sparrow hawk circled low,
In anticipation of its prey,
Then attracted by some other thing;
It quickly flew away.

A beauty haunts this desolate place,
With its contours shaped by ice,
Where beasts can still roam wild and free –
A small touch of paradise.
Bracken on the moor-edge slopes,
Mixed flora in the glens,
All produce their radiant colours,
Without the help or seed of men.

The walkers-path is overgrown,
Not many came this year,
The changes in the weather,
Have brought many summer storms to Clare.
There are some patches now of topsoil,
I hadn’t noticed at first glance,
Just a small sign – like so many others –
That we are on our final chance.

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Alexus Erin – MAKING SANDWICHES

Making Sandwiches

Me & my brain are making sandwiches for the first time in years
& I remember
I like sourdough. I wonder
whose hands made the bread & if this cooking,

this creation, is a kind of holiness. My brain laughs.
We’re having a sleepover on a school night
& I wonder
whose mother authorized it

By the grace of God
I am with my brain
& by the grace of God,
this brain’s a scrappy one

Which is to say, she is still sprinting: I’m impressed-
she did a lot of math this month. I joke that
she looks like she’s here
to eff the party up.

Brain tells Body (my body’s here too)
The first rule
of any effective love practice
is to synthesize its thoughtwork

with its bodywork: “Classic
substance-presence query, honeybee,” she sighs
& I know
that sigh was for me

I tell them, “First rule
of the big city
is to mind ya own damn business.” My body sets up
a cot at the foot of my bed

Gingerly removes her stockings, that they won’t rip
& I know
mishandling must be a violence
in which the body keeps score. She, of all people,

must be keeping score- I could stand
to learn a thing or two from this inclination
of tenderness, alone
My mouth, every morning,

famously reaching,
rooting ‘round any regional iteration of the daylight
To inhale a verbose evidence
& then exhale, like

my photosynthesis must be scheduled
to kick in any day now
As though this were the only thing
I knew how to do

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Latha Kottapalli – An Ode to Black Gold

An Ode to Black Gold

Roots pulled from hiding

Soothe my soul like soup.

Into you, I empty their skins.

Crucifers crisped to crunch,

Laced with lemon, linger on my tongue.

Into you, I empty their stalks.

Egg whites whipped to stiff peaks

Greet my lips with kisses of meringue.

Into you, I empty their shells.

Coffee beans roasted to an aroma

Titillate my nose to chase the whiff.

Into you, I empty their grounds.

Drupes drooping from stems

Satiate my sweet tooth.

Into you, I empty their stones.

Autumn’s burst of hues,

A muse for my eyes.

Into you, I empty its leaf litter.

Into you, I empty all the refuse.

Off you stir and cook them to a new birth.

Lo and behold, Black Gold tumbles out.

Gold that crumbles to the touch.

Smells like the parched earth

When kissed by the first rain spells.

Gold that soaks up like a sponge, springs up

As the roots, stone fruits, and all that nourishes.

O Earth, your kindness knows no bounds.

 

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Margaret Wagner – A GIRL ON HER BOARD

A GIRL ON HER BOARD

She rolled on the sidewalk at dusk,

the wheels of her skateboard whirring.

She bent without effort,

feet tucked under knees

in a pose I’d never seen.

Gray leggings popped out of pink high-tops. Maroon lips,

aubergine nail polish, metal hoops dangled from her ears.

Her chin rested on her long arm. One bare shoulder

slipped out of her oversized black cardigan. She flew

past cherry blossoms, absorbing cracks in equal measure.

Gliding in her own momentum,

never intending to forget her flow,

she followed her beat wherever it led her.

Was this the starting gate of her velocity

or the peak of it?

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JOHN GREY – 2 POEMS

THE TRUNK

I nudge aside some old poems

to get at the real poetry:

love letters from a former flame.

I’ve no idea why I’ve kept them

only that I’m a hoarder,

even of affection.

 

There’s something of nostalgia

to them,

like the Marvel comics

in very good condition,

or the copy of Sports Illustrated

with Larry Bird on the cover,

celebrating a championship.

 

The writing is neat,

the passion likewise,

nothing, I’m sure,

like the long-trashed missives

I sent in response.

Reading between lines is called for.

But, to be honest,

I find more neatness,

only it’s invisible.

 

From memory,

there was no great passion

between the two of us.

It’s what comes of listening to Yes together.

And decking ourselves out

in bell-bottoms.

But they’re part of history.

And, to my mind,

must be preserved.

 

But I throw in a few

more useless items,

bury those letters deeper

going forward.

It’s enough to know they’re there.

No place else would have them.

 

~

 

THE CIGARETTE LONG AFTER

A double downer:

I feel dirty as soot,

sheets smell like dumpster fires.

 

And here,

on a motel side table,

one cigarette burns a long, neglected ash.

No need to smoke it.

 

This room’s like a cigarette

with me cocooned inside it.

You and I shared this roadside hideaway.

Years ago.

Before there were flat-screen TV’s.

Before there was flat anything.

 

Now I lie on a lumpy mattress.

staring up at the nicotine-stained ceiling.

 

My teeth grind the grit

of what was once desire.

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MILES LISS – 2 POEMS

Aliens

On this mountain,

we built likenesses of ourselves

as human beings.

We sent them down to the valley to mingle

with the townspeople.

We went to Dairy Queen, ordered

a Blizzard, bought Megadeth

at the music store, and visited Army gun shows

that exhibited tanks and other

war machines.

We pretended

to be one of them, for this and only this

made them happy.

We walked into banks

instead of robbing them.

We took out accounts in fake American names

and sipped free cucumber water.

We went to the movies

with customers

carrying tubs of popcorn and 22 liters

of Coke, and pretended we were beautiful

for two hours.

As we rode back up the mountain,

the radio played a country song

about football, pick-up trucks and rebel flags.

We were made to understand these things

meant home.

An SUV drove across from us, with

an American family. In the front,

a husband and wife took a look

at us. I tried to read the husband’s lips.

I’m pretty sure he was saying, “Stay

away from our borders.”

In the back, a little freckle-faced boy

with a coonskin cap fired a pellet gun

at his kid sister—imagined killing her.

~

Monuments

The Washington Monument

shoots up at night like a giant rocket ship to the moon.

The Lincoln Memorial glows majestically.

Dead Presidents stare out through stone eyes,

their heroic expressions rendered masterfully.

Arlington Cemetery overflows

with soldiers who died in their honor.

Rats in subway grates

raid garbage bins for half-eaten Chipotle burritos.

Tourists walk past homeless men

whose hands are swollen

like catcher’s mitts.

A new Whole Foods opens around the corner.

Liquor stores sell lottery tickets

and menthol cigarettes.

At Five Guys, a family huddles

over burgers and Cajun fries, peanut shells on the floor

swept away by Central American teenagers.

Their pimply-faced son

watches the teens work while he chews.

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VERN FEIN – AUNT DeDe

AUNT DeDe

is dying to no one’s surprise.
88 and has been failing,
survived Parkinson’s for 15.
Meaningless numbers,
just like the spate of emails
and texts about her pending demise.
There will be no gathering
at her request.
Would be no gathering anyway.
Virtually everyone who would come
have had their own funerals
or live too far away.
The texts elicit tiny pebbles of sorrow,
barely a ripple in our ponds.

She had a vibrant life,
a noted audiologist,
world traveler with her doctor husband.
Then one daughter committed suicide,
another succumbed to a painful disease.
For that Aunt Dede is remembered.
Not her life—those deaths.
Oh, she was also afraid of cats.

Hibernating away at the edge of a Wisconsin burg,
she and her husband dealt in antiques
until they turned into them.
Today no one gave more than a sad
passing nod in their texts
to her going.

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TIM STALEY – A POEM FOR LANCE

DOOMSDAY JOGGING
(for Lance Leonard Gambrell)

Imagine a book
open to the black
depth of the universe.

Death is a wave of sound
you can’t wave off.

Sometimes instead of Lance dying
I imagine the tracks of a train
Vaselined and lit from behind
like an X-ray.

Sometimes instead of him dying
I imagine a steel-blue deity with 18 arms.
I guess 18 arms is how many arms it takes
to headlock something wrong.

I’m likely to round up a common stain
into a regional one or worse: a personal one.

The catch of crying is crying
kills bacteria, releases toxins,
improves vision.

Every white, elastomeric rooftop
in this desert town is haunted
by the dusty fingerprint of rain.
So much dust and blood work
between each papillary ridge.
The desert takes its time
showing us things die.

I was walking the acequia with my daughter
when she told me polar bears
have clear hair.

I was walking the acequia with my daughter
when a jellyfish of photons
came smearing across the tracks,
softening the steel.

I had a vision I went to see him
near the end in a hospital bed.
The walls were smoking
and we were playing dominoes
on a swiveling tray. It was horrifying,
I was still trying to win.

Lance writes poems on pizza boxes.
He gets to stay alive
a little while longer.

Last night tight ropes of light
crossed behind his eyes.
I wasn’t there. I was at home
looking for a dollar.

Last night in the pocket
of a yellow pillow, the tooth fairy
found my daughter’s 11th tooth.
The fairy came with a dollar,
dressed in mirage
except for his flip flops.
I heard in Mexico it’s a rat that comes;
it’s a rat that trades your tooth for cash.

I was walking the acequia with my daughter
when I told her polar bears have clear hair
because the air around those hairs
scatters light of every color
in every direction.
You could tell by her face,
the laws of light
were a let down.

Imagine a book
open on a table
only instead of pages
the black depth of the universe.
Now imagine
sunlight all spread out
on that same table.

Can you see him on a Tuesday in February?
Can you see him leaning
into the needles of wind like a vein?
Can you see him?
He’s walking there with me down Boutz
toward Avenida de Mesilla.
His curls so blond
they mirage.

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4 POEMS – DAVE SLAGLE

Forecast

Another rain prediction
while the alfalfa turns blue.
Hurricane moving toward Baja.
Fronts shifting.

I found more photos
showing what I missed.
But none of divorces
or the miscarriage
or the two bouts with lymphoma.
Just beautiful Marianna
with her smile owning
the light and everyone.

Albums arrayed as they were.
My worries now
from the future,
while I feel the tug
of an anchor’s rope.

Cardboard Box

I’m careful with the sides,
coming unglued,
and the warped shape,
water damaged and
no longer perfect.

It holds the twigs
that start my late fire
to which I add bigger wood
keeping the box well away
as flames absorb grief
venting into summer.

If only these feelings would
recycle back to those evenings
when we were teens in Tucson
smoking and talking
on the edge of change.

It was a time like this box,
in need of care.
And I left it out
in August rain.
Wet cardboard
never again smooth and virgin.

Shop Tree

A weather measure
comes from clouds
behind the big shop tree.
Where are they going?
Are they fast or heavy?

One has to stare
because today they are slow
and not going
yesterday’s way.
A soft mantras

calming and true.
Keep looking,
be patient,
and from distraction,
their new form

will carry you
into the future
the sweetness here now
the surprises
you’ll never guess.

Meteors

Would this meteor shower
make me cry?
Because it will be so beautiful
and really far away.

Finding some kleenex
in Marianna’s purse,
breathing in the closeness.
And remembering through decades

to a time, on my bicycle
riding home
after Marianna
and more than i deserved,
stunned by a celestial
streak that wouldn’t end.

Amazement light years away.
My bicycle noisy in desert dirt.
Elevating my heart
to an unfortunate level
I’d never forget.

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